Card Factory, the UK’s largest greeting card retailer, sent out positive messages about how its trade been ‘better than expected’ since it has re-opened stores since lockdown, while its online sales have soared. Its partnership arrangements with Aldi and The Reject Shop (in Australia) have also contributed “better than expected” revenues.
Like most retailers, the effects of Covid-19 have impacted on the value retailer’s fortunes. Its interim results, (covering the six months to July 31), show the retail group reported a £22.2 million statutory pre-tax loss, compared to a £24.3 million profit the previous year.
Card Factory adopted a phased re-opening with the last of its shops re-opening on July 24.
Commenting, Paul Moody, executive chairman of Card Factory, who is also caretaking the ceo role until a replacement for Karen Hubbard is appointed said: “We are pleased with both the trading performance as our stores have reopened and the positive feedback from customers who are visiting less frequently,but spending more. Recognising the uncertainty of the impact of further Covid-19 measures and changes in consumer behaviour in the short term, we are focused on a flawless execution of Christmas and the implementation of our refreshed strategy.”
While its store takings were down (by 4.4%), its online sales (albeit from a low base) were up by 64.4%. Although much of the latter increase was due to the period of store closures, the retail group also reported a “positive response” from consumers since the relaunch of its website on July 2.
The announcement of these interim results comes two months after Card Factory’s senior management team revealed the ambitious five-year strategy for the retail group, with a stated intention of becoming the “world’s best greeting card retailer.”
As part of a mission, which the team believe will see Card Factory increase its UK market share of the everyday card market to 45% (by volume) by 2024 (up 11% on its current position) and 31% by value (up from the current 20%), the retailer will look to open a few more stores, but largely the growth will come from forging retail partnerships with other brands (such as it currently enjoys with Aldi and Matalan) as well as online.
Card Factory’s ambitions on the retail partnership front go way beyond UK shores. Citing its arrangement with The Reject Shop in Australia as a prime “case study” which Card Factory supplies with a branded selection of cards, the Wakefield based business is to foster relationships with other retail players all over the world. As part of this it has set its sights on securing a 10% share of the everyday card market in the States.
Having previously stated that the ceiling for company-owned stores was 1,200, the retail group’s new five-year plan is to operate from around 1,100 of its own stores. More significantly though, is its goal to secure an additional 4,500 ‘distribution points’ (UK and international) through various retail partnerships.
In the latest interim results, Paul Moody confirmed that partnership sales performance was “better than expected”, with £1.9m in sales coming as a result of strong Aldi footfall and The Reject Shop’s positive performance since reopening following national lockdown .
Top: Some of Card Factory’s stores remained closed until July 24, well over a month after they could reopen.